Diary of Fate

Fate plays no favorites… it could happen to YOU! That tagline from the 1947-1948 syndicated series Diary of Fate is well-known by radio collectors not for its being memorable but for it being… hokey! Most collectors never took the program seriously, and its exclusion from radio references such as Tune in Yesterday , On the Air (both by John Dunning), The Big Broadcast , and others, was no accident. That said, it can make for entertaining listening if expectations are not held high . The stories were not the best, but the casting and production were top notch. The casts include Hollywood radio’s best such as Gloria Blondell, Jerry Hausner, Virginia Gregg, Ruth Perrott, Herbert Rawlinson, Tyler McVey, Hal Sawyer, Howard McNear, Barney Phillips, Tom Brown, David Ellis, Daws Butler, Bill Johnstone, Byron Kane, and many others. Sound effects were by Ray Ehrlenborn, who, years later, would become a n effects legend for his work on Gunsmoke. The organ music by Ivan Ditmars is absolutely top notch. The producer of the series was Larry Finley, a broadcast executive, restaurateur, entrepreneur, investor, and was involved in the adoption of new recording technologies in the 1950s. Herb Lytton, an actor by training and experience, was co-producer of the series.I n a terrible stroke of broadcasting fate, Lytton cast himself as the voice of “Fate.” It did not work well, making the show memorable for the wrong reasons. Lytton, however, had a steady career in radio ( Lux Radio Theatre, The Whistler , and others) and was especially busy in television through the 1950s and the early 1960s. The harsh and stoic voice of Fate in the series was so wooden, and purposely so, that it was hard to accept other than as a caricature. The base concept of Fate reading from a book about a person’s life is part of Western culture and a similar pattern is found in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. It’s a familiar theme to have such a narrator that can be found in programs like The Whistler. T he program’ s quality is somewhat like Murder at Midnight without its supernatural elements. Mutual’s The Sealed Book used a similar structure, but in the Diary of Fate , it got really personal for the week’s subject: they would get caught in circumstances created by their own selfishness and bungling, and redemption would not be possible. The program can often be found in collections with broadcast dates, which is an error. This was a syndicated program and could be played at any time depending on the contract signed between a station and Finley’s broadcasting business. The program numbers are the best indicator of program order, though that matters little in an anthology series of self-contained stories. * * * These recordings are part of the Joe Hehn Memorial Collection. Mr. Hehn (1931-2020) was a pioneering collector of radio recordings when the hobby emerged in the 1960s. Digitizing his collection of reel tapes and discs is the effort of a wide range of North American volunteers, and includes assistance of some international collectors. The groups supporting this effort with their funds, time, technology and skills are the Old Time Radio Researchers and a small group of transcription disc preservationists who refer to themselves as the "The Knights of the Turning Table."

This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.